Ott Tänak finished second after the first full day of competition at Rally Sweden, according to ERR's sports portal.
In a race shortened due to lack of snow, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja finished second in the Hyundai i20 in the 21-kilometer opening stage, 1.1 seconds behind Welshman Elfyn Evans (Toyota).
In the second test, Tänak took a 0.9 second edge over Evans. Finn Kalle Rovanpera (Toyota) was third in both these two stages).
The third stage saw the Welshman come into a league of his own, building up a 7.9-second lead ahead of the Estonian, and an overall 8.5-second lead for the whole of Friday.
Friday was an improvement on Thursday evening's opening test, where the Estonian, 32, from Saaremaa, finished fifth.
As per usual for WRC events, the race continues with stages on Saturday and Sunday.
Tänak is in his second race for Hyundai, which he joined shortly after clinching the 2019 driver's title in late October in Catalunya.
Rally Sweden, held in Värmland, in the southwest of the country, is unique in being the only race in the calendar to be run on snow; international motorsport governing body the FIA had been weighing-up canceling the race altogether. This has only happened once, in 1990, in the rally's near 70-year history.
WRC Junior series driver Roland Poom crashed out of the event on Friday.
Editor: Andrew Whyte